Michelle Simakis

Spending time with family is a cherished aspect of the holidays for me, and I am grateful to have a large, extended one that includes relatives and close friends. I was watching my friend’s daughters open their gifts from their “aunties” one night before Christmas. The eldest, Maggie, who is 5, showed genuine joy upon unwrapping each gift, taking time to thank the giver and appreciate each one before moving on to the next treasure, tugging a Wonder Woman costume over her nightgown or slipping a bracelet on her wrist. Jenny, Maggie’s 2-year-old sister, watched her closely, eyeing the bracelet, and grabbed for it. Maggie kindly pulled her wrist back, fully aware that if her little sister got a hold of it, the string may snap, the beads scattering in all directions on the floor.

Jenny recovered, shrugged it off and turned her attention to the discarded jewelry box on the floor. She picked it up and admired the relatively plain vessel, opened it and brought the gray box to her cheek, explaining how soft it felt. Her eyes widened, and she brought the container under her nose and breathed in. She sighed with a smile on her face and encouraged us to try — it smelled good, she said. I laughed, thought it was silly, but played along, and took a hesitant, skeptical sniff. I was surprised to find a perfectly balanced, delicate rose fragrance. It was beautiful.

Jenny is particularly perceptive in this way, but most of you likely have a similar story of how a child revealed something to you that you would have otherwise missed. With their fresh, unbiased eyes, they reintroduce us to the small wonders and surprises that surround us, the things that we forget and tend to disregard.

As an editor, I’m often tasked with searching for and correcting the bad — focusing on grammatical mistakes, misspellings, and factual errors. As garden center owners and managers, you likely search for what needs tended to and what may be going wrong — plants that have been watered too much or too little, sparse displays that need to be restocked or a customer who looks confused and needs help. This is essential to our jobs, but it’s also important, for all of us, to look for the good.

Spring is a hectic, grueling season, with everyone working overtime to make sure the garden center is ready, plants are healthy and customers are happy. It’s stressful and likely difficult to take a moment to stop and appreciate what you do. I’ve heard from some that you worry about new customers being confused and overwhelmed by the size of your store and the selection. But it’s equally as likely that your unbiased, inexperienced visitors are taken aback by the beauty of the plants and the respite the garden center can offer, and it’s important to remember and embrace that, too.


Michelle Simakis msimakis@gie.net